The former agent and manager of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has pleaded guilty to having stolen over half a million pounds from the composer.
Michael Arnold, 76, has admitted in Kingston crown court that he helped himself to £522,333 of Maxwell Davies’s money, allegedly to fund a gambling addiction. As the composer’s manager, Arnold had complete access to his bank account. Maxwell Davies himself had, it seems, no idea that funds were disappearing until his card was rejected when he tried to withdraw £40 from a cash machine in 2006.
Judge Nicholas Jones has warned Arnold that he now faces a lengthy jail sentence. Arnold has also already had to sell his house to help pay off Maxwell Davies the money that he owes him.
The composer and his former manager go back a long way. Arnold oversaw Maxwell Davies’s accounts for over 30 years and was also considered a close friend by the composer – the ‘J’ prefix under which Max’s works are catalogued is derived from the name of Arnold’s wife Judith. When the case first went to court in December last year, friends of Maxwell Davies, who is also the Master of the Queen’s Music, implied that he had been something of a sitting duck. ‘He is a genius when it comes to music,’ said one, ‘but an ignoramus when it comes to making money.’